Banning the Bomb
There is a terrible irony in the fact that America's top military brass
are meeting in Nebraska to discuss how to allow the military to use a
"I think the fact that President George Bush wants to use nuclear
weapons in frightening," said Rev.
His church is part of a nationwide peace moment that will protest the concept through education. At about 4 p.m. on Aug. 9, Ryuma Miyanaga and Eiji Nakanizhi, two survivors of the Hiroshima blast in Japan in 1945, planned to visit the First Reformed Church as part of the church's plans to dedicate a "peace pole" and peace garden.
A peace pole is a hand-crafted monument that displays the message and prayer: "May peace prevail on Earth" on each of its four sides.
There are more than 200,000 peace poles in 180 countries around the world, and these serve as constant reminders for people to visualize and pray for peace.
chosen the date in remembrance of the victims of the a
Miyanaga and Nakanishi are members of a fading group known as the Hibakusha.
has a special place in the Japanese peace movement because they are
eye-witnesses to the devastating impact a
will be so moved by the stories of the Hibakusha that you will never again
think about nuclear weapons in the same way," said Madelyn Hoffman,
director of New Jersey Peace Action out of
the United States Strategic Command is meeting to discuss President Bush's
plans for the new generation of nuclear weapons, ones that can be more readily
used in the field to attack deeply constructed enemy bunkers. While the Bush
Administration has defended the idea as a deterrent - saying that if terrorist
groups and hostile nations know the
however, feel that by lowering the barriers for use of these weapons, the risk
of nuclear war is that much greater - especially because many countries that
currently own nuclear weapons would use them rather than conventional weapons.
These peace groups contend that use by the
Two survivors come to Secaucus
Miyanaga, 73, was employed at a shipyard 3.5 kilometers from the center of the
Nakanishi, 61, was 3 years old when the bomb fell on
In 1987, a
video tape was made of the survivors, which recounted some of the stories that
Secaucus residents can expect to hear at the
important to remember that
expected an attack and were in the middle of demolishing buildings to create
fire breaks so as to keep the city from being swept away by flames if the
Although Miyanaga and Nakanizhi were not available for interviews by press time, and no published accounts of their particular stories were available, many victims were interviewed for a 1987 video, detailing what they saw and felt.
Within seconds of the flash, a shock wave rushed through the city, knocking down people and buildings. The fire created by the blast lasted for hours, often breaking out into tornado-like columns that continued to dance through the city.
Everywhere, people died, some immediately hit by the blast, some more slowly as a result of burns, others over weeks and months as a result of the radiation.
before the blast hit, witnesses said an air raid warning went through the city
"We saw a B-29 approaching and flying over us," he said. "All of us were looking up at the sky pointing out the aircraft. That was the moment when the blast came, and then the tremendous noise came and we were left in the dark."
He was picked up and thrown by the blast. When he managed to get up, he saw a devastated city. "Everything collapsed for as far as I could see," he said.
Witnesses' accounts recalled a metallic like light flashing across the sky.
"It was not a big flash," said Isao Kita, who worked for the Hiroshima Weather Bureau 3.7 km from the center. "But still it drew my attention. In a few seconds, the heat wave arrived. After I noticed the flash, white clouds spread over the blue sky. Then came the heat wave. It was very hot. It was as if I was looking directly into a kitchen oven."
Akira Onogi, a student at the time, said, "I saw a blue flash of light just like a spark made by a train or some kind of circuit. Next, a steam-like blast came."
often call the a
"Outside, it suddenly turned bright red," said Hiroshi Sawachika, an army doctor who was 4.1 kilometers from the blast. "I felt very hot on my cheeks."
The sound followed the light. Flames fell from the sky. Water pipes exploded. The air was so thick with smoke most people struggled to breathe.
smelled something like sulfur," said Taeko Teramae, a telephone operator
who was less than a half kilometer from the blast. "It smelled something
like the volcano,
Takehiko Sakai said, "It was stifling. The heat was terrible. I took a deep breath and then mud and sand was sucked into my mouth."
Flame and destruction everywhere
Nearly everyone was knocked down, furniture thrown across rooms, glass exploding from windows, leaving many cut or killed. Those further from the blast site actually saw a mushroom cloud.
Yosaku Mikami, a firefighter located 1.9 kilometers from the blast center, said fire was everywhere and the sky was dull as if covered by clouds.
"The electric light poles burned down," he said. "We heard many people swearing, screaming, shouting, asking for help."
He and other firefighters tried to place the injured on firetrucks. "But this was difficult because their skin peeled off as we tried to move them," he said.
Many rescuers died within a few months, of radiation poisoning.
Most were badly burned, and smelled liked cooked squid. Doctors lacking the medicines needed for treating even ordinary burns used peanut oil, water and bandages. Other doctors reported having only mercurochrome.
Most of those who survived were naked because the blast had burned off their clothing. Many bringing people to seek medical help carried others on their shoulders.
"It was like a big tornado of fire," said Akiko Takakura, a worker at a bank that was 300 meters from the center of the explosion. Takakura is the closest known survivor. "It was just like a living hell."
Then came the black rain. It stuck to everything. When it fell on trees and leaves, it turned them black. When it touched people's clothing, the clothing turned black. When it touched flesh, it remained and could not be washed off.
The rain would not extinguish the flame.
Many of the still-living people were crying out for their mothers, said Kinue Tomoyasu, who had come into the city after the blast to search for her daughter.
"Hands were trying to grab my ankles," said Yoshtaka Kawamoto, who was 13 at the time. "They were asking me to take them along. I was horrified that so many hands were trying to grab me."
River full of bodies and debris
Many people fled to the river. It was thick with debris: pillars, beams and pieces of furniture. It was also filled with floating bodies. Wounded people bathed on either side, trying to wash away the pain of their burns, using whatever clothing they could find for bandages.
Hiroko Fukada, one kilometer from the blast, said she was pushed to the river by the masses of people, and tried to swim to the other side.
"I was suddenly spun around by the current," she said in the video. "Large pieces of hail began to fall and my face started hurting. The water was swirling around me, and later I learned that it was a tornado."
Later, many people's hair began to fall out and their skin began to show purple spots. Some suffered high fevers and died.
But those called the Hibakusha survived to tell their stories about the horror.